Homeowners encouraged to assess bush fire exposure

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service, South Australian Country Fire Service and Understand Insurance are encouraging households to assess their bush fire exposure this disaster season.

Newly released data from the Insurance Council of Australia (ICA) shows 1.75 million blocks of land nationwide may be impacted by bush fires.

They include:

  •         Tasmania – 64 per cent of blocks
  •         Western Australia – 34 per cent
  •         Victoria – 24 per cent
  •         New South Wales – 22 per cent
  •         South Australia – 19 per cent

The warning comes as the Bush fire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre (BNHCRC) upgraded its seasonal bush fire outlook for the second time due to increased risk across southern and eastern Australia.

While factors such as how close a home is to bush land and the slope of the land can affect a home’s physical vulnerability to bush fires, they also impact on insurance needs by influencing rebuilding costs.

Understand Insurance spokesman Campbell Fuller says changes to national building standards for homes on bush fire-prone land have increased the risk of underinsurance for some households.

“State and local governments have introduced tougher building standards over recent years to make homes in bush fire-prone areas more resilient. This is a positive step, but it can substantially raise rebuilding costs, especially for properties built before 2009,” Mr Fuller says. 

Mr Fuller says households should contact their local council for information about the bush fire zoning of their property.

NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says the heavy rainfall across his state over recent months had seen significant vegetation growth, increasing the risk of grass fires.

“Everybody needs to know what they will do if faced with this type of emergency. Preparing for bush and grass fires is easier than people may think. It starts with simply talking to your family about what you would do if a bush fire was to start nearby,” Commissioner Fitzsimmons says.

In addition to bush fires, Australians face a greater risk of storms, cyclones and flooding over the summer months.

“Wherever you live, it’s important to be aware of the hazards you face and take steps to lower your risk,” Mr Fuller says.

For more information on disaster preparation, visit http://understandinsurance.com.au/preparing-for-disasters.

You can find the Understand Insurance’s free and independent insurance calculators here.